A Message on Stewardship from the Treasurer
The Stewardship Campaign at the Church of the Advent has the ostensible and worldly purpose of raising funds for the operation of our parish and for the support of her ministries. Electric bills must be paid; and the clergy, too, like the rest of us, need to eat; and the list runs on and on.
Various quite reasonable appeals can be made to prudent-minded members of this congregation that they pay their fair share of all these practical costs, and that various benefits accrue to our parish family as a result of this fair-minded and broad-based contribution. Facts can be marshaled in support of this line of argument:
And then, should facts fail to have an effect, a gentle application of guilt could even be tried, in the name of effective fundraising:
If all that you have just read is effective in worldly terms or not, I do not know. All of it, however true and necessary to hear, misses the actual profound and spiritual purpose of the Stewardship Campaign: to give us members of the Advent a chance to put into right order our relationship with money and our relationship with God.
On October 14, Fr Wood gave us a sermon on the Rich, Young Ruler (which I commend to you if you missed it). In it, Fr Wood said that Jesus talks about money more than just about anything else in the gospels because money has a particular power to blind our inward vision - our ability to see ourselves as we really are, and thus our ability to recognize our own spiritual poverty.
Money is great at papering over a rotten soul so that its owner doesn’t have to see the blight. This is why Jesus told the Rich, Young Ruler, “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” And also why the Rich, Young Ruler “was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” (Mark 10:21-22) I think most of us empathize with the grieving young man, for however great or scant our possessions may be, it would be hard to separate ourselves from them. But this is what the Lord asks of us. Our true home is not with our possessions, but it is in the Lord.
I ask that all of us, during this Stewardship Campaign for 2013, think and pray about our relationship with money, and how that relationship might stand in the way of our relationship with God and the life he has called us to. With these thoughts and prayers in mind, I ask you please to consider your annual gift to God’s church.
If we all, as a Christian family, do what I have just asked, I suspect that “our numbers will go up”: that more people will give, and that they will do so more fully. But more important, we, both individually and corporately, will grow more fully into the Love of Christ.
Here endeth the exhortation!
Yours in Christ,
Treasurer & Stewardship Chairman
What follows is the practical mechanics on pledging and how it works at the Advent. If you have been pledging for decades, you may skip the rest of the brochure. If you haven’t, or if you have questions about how pledging works at the Advent, please read onwards!
In any case, please return your pledge card to the Advent in a collection plate or by mail, no later than the December 2, the First Sunday of Advent.
Membership at the Advent
Anyone is always welcome to worship at the Advent. And as we all hear from the pulpit every Sunday, we very much try to extend a warm welcome (and generally succeed, I think!) to all of our visitors. Once a visitor becomes more than just a visitor, however, and decides to make the Advent his or her Christian home, then it is time for that visitor to become a member of the Parish.
To be a member of the Church of the Advent, one must commit both to regular worship at and regular financial support of the Parish. At the Advent, as is the general Episcopal tradition, we commit to support the church financially with a pledge of giving for the upcoming year through the annual Stewardship Campaign.
By our Parish by-laws, only members of the Parish who make a recorded financial contribution are allowed to vote at the Annual Meeting, and only financially supporting members of the Parish may serve as Vestrymen and Officers. By Parish tradition, we have extended this requirement to the other ministries in the Church, from acolytes to ushers to readers to church school teachers, and on and on, all of whom must also be pledging members.
Membership in the Parish is a way of formalizing your spiritual discipline of regular worship in and regular support of God’s holy church. If you have not supported the Advent financially in a regular way, but think of it as your church, your spiritual home, or your Christian family, this is an especial call to you.
Once your pledge card is received by the Parish, it will be recorded in the Parish office. It then becomes your responsibility to fulfill the pledge during the upcoming year. Some people put a check weekly or monthly in a pledge envelope and drop it in the collection plate. Others simply have their bank or online bill-pay send a regular check. If you give cash, though, it is important to put the cash in an official pledge envelope so that it can be recorded as given by you, and count toward you pledge.
Your financial contributions will be recorded by the Parish office toward the fulfillment of your pledge. A statement will be mailed to you in April, July, October, and early in December, with a record of your pledge and your donations to date, so that you can keep track of how you are doing on your promise, or make sure that the Parish office hasn’t missed something (which very rarely happens, I am pleased to say!). And, of course, every January the parish office will send you a statement for tax purposes.
Questions or Discussion
Members of the Stewardship Committee would love the chance to talk to you individually about stewardship and giving at the Advent. As we have said before, our Stewardship Campaign is not first and foremost about collecting dollars to pay for the church’s electric bill, though that is important. It is about giving all members of this our Christian family a formal opportunity to deepen our relationship with God through the sacrificial giving that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ asks of each of us. Let us all use this Stewardship Campaign as a chance to examine our relationship with money and all worldly things, and to ask God to help us to redirect our eyes and our hearts to those things of eternal value.
If you would like to speak with a member of the committee, please feel free to do so directly, or contact the office if you would like to have someone contact you.
|Thatcher Gearhart||Fr Sammy Wood|
|Vance Hosford||David Lapin|
|Meg Nelson||Steven Sayers|
|Philip LeQuesne||Jason Grant|
|John Boyd||Peter Madsen|
|Barbara Boles||Jason & Carolyn Lewis|
A Stewardship Prayer
Oh Lord, giver of life and source of our freedom, we are reminded that Yours is the earth in its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it. We know that it is from your hand that we have received all we have and are and will be. Gracious and loving God, we understand that you call us to be the stewards of Your abundance, the caretakers of all you have entrusted to us. Help us always to use your gifts wisely and teach us to share them generously. May our faithful stewardship bear witness to the love of Christ in our lives. We pray this with grateful hearts in Jesus’ name. Amen.